Man to publish Colombia Three story

JAMES Monaghan one of the infamous Colombia Three who were convicted of teaching bomb-making techniques to Marxist guerrillas in the South American country, will tell his story in a book to be published next week.

According to Sinn Féin, Monaghan will tell the “inside story” of the Colombia Three: “why they were in the demilitarised zone; what they discussed with the FARC rebels; [and] how they survived the daily dangers of their time in prison”.

FARC is the Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the Marxist rebel group attempting to overthrow the country’s government since the 1960s.

Monaghan will be present for the official launch of the book on Tuesday night at the Sinn Féin bookshop in Parnell Square, Dublin.

He was arrested with Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley in Colombia in August 2001 on charges of providing explosives training to FARC members.

After a protracted trial, the men were found guilty in April 2004 of travelling on false passports but acquitted of the bomb-training charges.

However, the prosecution successfully appealed the latter decision and, in December that same year, the men were sentenced to 17 years in prison.

By then, however, the trio had jumped bail and fled Colombia. They resurfaced in Ireland in late 2005 and there have been no moves since to extradite them.

Monaghan spoke at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis this year and, it is understood, assisted in the party’s general election campaign.

The book will tell how the three men were “in daily danger of assassination by fellow prisoners acting for right-wing paramilitaries” while held in various Colombian prisons for almost three years.

“To the world media, this was a story of major importance in terms of global issues of terrorism, intimately involving British and US intelligence, the Colombian government, the massive Colombian drugs industry, the US State Department, and the peace process in Ireland,” Sinn Féin said in promotional literature for the book which it issued to members yesterday.

“To the men themselves, it was a struggle for survival as they were moved from jail to jail, knowing all the time that there was a price on their head that any of their fellow prisoners might be only too keen to collect.”

According to the party, the book will have “lighter moments” too, such as Monaghan’s attempts “to avoid the attentions of a homicidal fellow inmate”.

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